The good folks down at Cook’s Illustrated have found that washing veggies and fruit with a diluted mix of 3 parts water to 1 part good, old-fashioned white vinegar and then rinsing with water is 98% effective in removing bacteria from foods. It is important to wash even organic produce that may be affected by salmonella.
Here is a handy tip to make this wash procedure routine: Fill a spray bottle with the vinegar-water solution and keep it by the sink. Before you eat an apple or scrub a potato, just spritz it with the vinegar solution. I have been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and it’s become almost second nature. The final rinse washes away any residual vinegar flavor while ensuring that you’re really washing your food.
Of course, when it comes to food that must be submerged in water to wash it, like broccoli and lettuce, the process is a bit more onerous. But everything can’t be easy, can it?
There are other things you can do with that handy vinegar-filled spritz bottle in your kitchen. Spray down countertops and the sink to clean and deoderize them in a food-safe way. Vinegar is great for getting grease and grime off refrigerators and stovetops. Get rid of germs on trashcans and compost bins. And the bonus is that you can avoid using caustic chemical-filled cleaners is the place where you prepare your food. (Here’s 1001 more tips for using white vinegar around the house.)